My partner is cyclothymic, how can I help him?

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One irritable and withdrawn day, the next smiling and enthusiastic, your partner lives to the rhythm of their moods. What if it was cyclothymic? Tips to help you recognize this mood disorder and live better every day.

"For a few days, my husband is irresistible, funny, cheerful and even a little too self-confident. The following week I do not dare to approach him anymore because he is in a very bad mood. Says Valérie, who has been juggling her husbands cyclothymia for twenty years. Others see their morale change over longer periods of time or several times in the same day. Tiring for them, but also for those around them.

In cyclothymia, the moods do a “yo-yo” constantly. Uncontrollable and excessive, they go without transition from a "high" phase to a "low" phase. Furthermore, many cyclothymics are sensitive to seasonal changes.

The disorder occurs more often in women than in men, approximately three women to two men, and women generally tend to undergo medical treatment more easily than men.

Loss of control, anger and sadness in the "low" phase

In the "low" phase also known as "depressive", the cyclothymic struggles to control himself. A traffic jam, a delay, a failure of the washing machine are enough to provoke her anger. It is a way of "venting" your pain by projecting it onto others. But you can also get sad, withdraw, spend your time on the computer, etc. These signs often suggest a real depression. Except they only last as long as the "low" phase: a few hours, days, or weeks.

"Many cyclothymics receive antidepressant treatments that are not appropriate for their condition," explains Dr. Elie Hantouche, a psychiatrist and founder of the Center for Anxiety and Mood Disorders. As a result, they wait years before being properly diagnosed and receiving proper care. "

Creative and sociable but difficult to channel in the "high" phase

Contrary to popular belief, the "euphoria" or "hypomania" phase does not always equate to euphoria. If some are really willing to lift mountains, others may be very agitated or undertake a thousand things without finishing them.

"You should know that cyclothymia, especially in the" high "phase, stimulates creativity, says Dr. Hantouche. Because it gives an unusual energy and promotes the association of ideas or mental images. Not forgetting that the person has a predisposing hypersensitivity creative activity.At work, they are often described as highly social, project leaders, and yet difficult to channel.

Behavioral signs that should alert

We all have ups and downs. Are these mood swings very common in your partner? With "spikes" from time to time? If so, everything indicates a cyclothymic temperament. Nothing serious. Be aware that you have excessive sensitivity. But it usually does not cause real pain or complications.

"However, when the peaks are very frequent (several times a week) and very intense, you have to be alert," says Elie Hantouche. They occur more particularly in times of stress, threat, frustration, conflict with others. "

To which other disorders are usually added: substance abuse (alcohol), risky behaviors (search for strong sensations, driving at high speed), addictions (sports, Internet, sex), and anxiety disorders such as obsessive-compulsive disorders ( TOC). These are manifested by repeated behaviors such as washing hands fifty times a day, checking everything at home. Maybe this is the time to talk about it.

Problem: people do not like to look at your state of mind. And more when it comes to pointing out the flaws. They prefer to save face. Tackling cyclothymia is not easy.

Instead of going head-on, use arguments that get you excited. In particular about his physical condition and his professional performance: "it is not good for your heart", "you could be more productive at work if you were less irritable sometimes", "you are too stressed", "I think your libido has dropped" .

"Using somatic language can make you realize that something is wrong, but that it can be fixed," said Vincent Trybou, a clinical psychologist in Paris. And that without waiting for the hard blow, for example a depression. After this stage, you can help him live better with his instability.

Treatments in case of depressive risk

No treatment is necessary if the symptoms of cyclothymia remain mild. But for those with a family history or at risk of a depressive episode, it is necessary to opt for a treatment based on mood stabilizers. The most common is lithium, which is taken for several months (or longer) and in low doses. The doctor tosometimes he chooses to combine it with other "mood stabilizers" or with an antidepressant if necessary.

In parallel, the cyclothymic follows individual psychotherapy or group psychoeducation: it helps them to identify their symptoms, to manage them and to improve their hygiene of life.

Adopt a healthy lifestyle

A cyclothymic can, in fact, reduce their mood swings by adopting a healthy lifestyle. For this, you need:

Improve their sleep: Encourage them to get enough sleep and to wake up at a certain time in the morning if possible. Help her organize her week.

Eat healthy: vegetables, fish, oils rich in omega 3 (rapeseed, nuts, olives) in large quantities. As for alcohol, you should limit your consumption to a maximum of one glass of wine per meal.

Do a sports activity.

Learn to relax, even if only with a hot bath, a nap, a good book. Ideally, you should practice a relaxation method that you can learn from a psychotherapist or physical therapist. Yoga, martial arts, tai chi, and qigong are also great for reconciling mind and body.

Take a step back on your emotions: as soon as they "rise," try to identify their causes. And to stay in control, you need to put your annoyance in perspective, postpone the discussion, put yourself in the other persons shoes.

For your part, do not make things worse by getting angry or rejecting him. In its "low" phases, questions about its condition are generally not welcome. Do you have a "blood spill"? Acknowledging your emotion will calm you down. And when he is aggressive with you, do not take it for a personal attack.

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